Kayte Terry Q+A and Book Giveaway

Craft & Design

Complete Embellishing: Techniques and Projects by Kayte Terry
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Kayte Terry’s Complete Embellishing is one of my very favorite craft books at the moment. It’s full of super helpful step-by-step tutorials covering everything you need to get going with embellishment techniques like appliqué, fabric stamping, embroidery and glass etching. Once you’ve got those basics down, you’ll be ready to tackle the projects, which range from housewares (like the cute woodland-inspired cocktail glasses) to accessories (ribbon-bedecked shoes, anyone?) and some truly gorgeous wardrobe-enhancers like the cozy, felted Victoriana cardigan. It’s all wrapped up in a handy spiral-bound, beautifully-photographed package that’s the perfect blend of useful content and yummy eye candy.
Guess what? We’re giving away a copy of Complete Embellishing to one lucky CRAFT reader! Just leave a comment to this post and tell us why you need this book. (Please make sure your email address is in your profile so we can contact you if you win.) All comments will be closed by 12pm PST on Tuesday, September 16. The lucky winners will be announced on Wednesday evening on the CRAFT blog. Good luck!
Reading Kayte’s book made me curious about her background and her views on being an independent businessperson an increasingly challenging marketplace. Read on to find out what doing it yourself really entails.
CRAFT: Do you run your indie business full time, or do you have a “day job” to help keep you afloat? BONUS: If the latter is the case, how do you balance your time/make time for crafting?
I do run my own indie business full-time but not in the traditional “making and selling” way. All of the work I do is in the craft/design world but I work as a writer, stylist and crafter for magazines most of the time. I find that diversifying my business makes it easier to stay afloat and make money. If I don’t make any money at a craft fair, I know there is always a writing or styling job around the corner!
CRAFT: How did you make the transition from working for “The Man” to working for yourself? Did you (do you) ever find yourself doubting your decision, or was the transition a smooth one?
I had been working as a Visual Manager for Anthropologie for several years when I decided to go off and work for myself. I set a goal for how much money I needed to save before I quit and when I hit that goal, I typed up my resignation letter. Luckily, they were really supportive of my decision and still hire me as a freelancer so I didn’t have too many doubts. Also, I found a really great freelance job (working for Adorn magazine) pretty quickly after I left Anthro, so that helped too!
CRAFT: How do you structure your days when you’re the boss (do you stick to a set schedule, etc.?), and do you have any tips on time/task management?
It’s hard to predict my week to week schedule is going to be like so I have to constantly find balance and plan out my weeks as they come. Some weeks, I work at home writing and crafting and other weeks I am on photo shoots.
I make big lists every week with all of my deadlines and other things I want to accomplish; I love crossing things off! Also, I have started to learn more about my natural work habits: even though I like staying up late I find that I get the most work done early in the morning so now I am trying to get myself out of bed earlier.
Right now, I am still having a hard time making time for me but luckily, I really like my work so I think that most of what I do is fun!
CRAFT: How would you compare the challenges of working for yourself with working for “The Man”?
I probably work more hours than when I worked full-time and I generally work every day, including weekends. Also, I bring my laptop with me on all my vacations and always check my emails. On the other hand, it’s my work and my career only that I am advancing so I feel less resentful about working overtime.
I also think you start to see how all the work you do will effect your career in the longterm. With my book for example, I am doing a lot of extra publicity work and, while I am not getting a paycheck for my efforts, it is going to help me in the future.
CRAFT: How important has the internet been in relation to the growth of your business? Also, would you say the bulk of your business comes from your own website, or from wholesale accounts and/or craft show sales?
I don’t sell that much online so I see the internet in terms of publicity and getting my name known by other crafters and designers. The internet has been extremely important for the growth of my business. A lot of work I have gotten over the years has been from my blog or from people seeing my work on other blogs. It’s been a lot easier for me to get publicity and press on the internet and I have seen great results. A mention on Design*Sponge or Apartment Therapy for instance can really drive your business even if it doesn’t result in many sales. More and more people start to know your name and your business and sales will follow eventually.
I do think it’s really important to sell at craft fairs though. Even though so many people buy their crafts online now, I still think that nothing can replace the experience of buying from a crafter face-to-face.
CRAFT: Is there anything you wish you’d done differently when starting your business, knowing what you know now? BONUS: Any resources for upstart craft businesses that you’d care to recommend?
I think the only thing I wish I had done differently was to be more confident in my abilities. I think that I used to resist sending my portfolio to a magazine or emailing a “big” blogging name because I was afraid of being rejected. I still don’t like being passed over for a job of course but I try to remember that it’s not personal and usually has nothing to do with my skills.
On a more practical note, I have learned how to be more organized with my money and paperwork. I now have a filing cabinet with folders for receipts, contracts, etc and save all my important documents on a hard drive. I don’t really think there is one good way to be organized so people really need to find their own style.
CRAFT: Any tips on how to keep your business fresh and thriving/growing? How do you stay inspired?
I think that my business has really grown organically as I found what I was good at. I really quickly found that I wasn’t going to be able to survive just selling my own crafts so I started writing about crafts and making things for magazines. I think the best advice being successful is to learn what you are good at and love to do and stick with that.
I also try to check in with myself pretty often and make sure I am working as efficiently and happily as I should. It sounds really silly but sometimes, in the stress of working for myself, I forget that I have an awesome job and that I chose to do this!
I stay inspired by reading a lot, going to museums, going for long walks. I get most of my ideas when I take walks so I take a lot of them and I always carry a sketch pad just in case!
Recently I noticed that I was reading so many craft blogs that I wasn’t getting anything done so even though I find them really inspiring I try to strike a balance between outside influence and inspiration from within.
CRAFT: Becoming an author– did it come as naturally to you as it seems? Would you do it again?
Yes! I think it was exactly what I was looking for. The mix of writing and making and being able to show my personal aesthetic in book form really worked for me. Of course, it was insanely stressful for me but I learned a lot and the second time around is so much easier! Oh and yes, I am writing another book and I am so excited about it! It’s a book about appliqué and it is being published by Chronicle, out next fall!
CRAFT: What’s your favorite project in your new book and why?
It’s so hard to pick one but I really like the Prize Ribbon Skirt, mostly because the skirt came out completely different than I had originally planned it and I love it so much more now! I actually ended up making two versions of the skirt. I hated the first one I made so I scrapped it and came up with the one that you see in the book and I am so glad I trusted my instincts!

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Jenny Ryan

Jenny Ryan is an artist, crafter, and maker of things. She lives in Los Angeles with a pack of various animals (including her husband) and writes about her adventures in creating at Exit Through the Thrift Shop.

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